Luis Suarez eager for Uruguay return after serving 636-day bite-ban
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez said he is looking forward to the end of almost two years of "suffering" being unable to play a competitive game for his country.
The Barcelona forward is eligible to return from his international playing ban when Uruguay face Brazil on March 25 in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.
The striker hasn't played in an official match for his country since he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a group match on June 24, 2014 at the World Cup in Brazil and was subsequently banned from all football activity, although he was allowed to play in three friendlies in 2014. He missed the first four months of the 2014-15 La Liga season as well.
Now, after being benched for nine international games, including the 2015 Copa America, he has returned to the squad for their upcoming qualifiers against Brazil (March 25) and Peru (March 29).
The former Liverpool forward told newspaper El Observador back in his home country that at first the prohibition from even visiting a training pitch had been the most difficult to deal with, while he had not at all enjoyed being at home watching on TV as his country played important games.
"It's not that it has been long... at first the suspension meant I could not even do my job, not go to a stadium, that was what made me sad," Suarez said of the 636-day punishment. "But as time has gone by, [I have been] suffering watching the national team games on the TV, but knowing that in some moment it was going to end and wanting for that day to come."
Suarez [and many of his fellow Uruguayans] at first denied that he had done anything wrong in the clash with Chiellini, but eventually accepted that he had made a mistake.
The 29-year-old won the Treble in his first season with the Blaugrana club, and is leading their charge to repeat that feat with 42 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions so far this term. But he still says he struggles to understand why his punishment was so harsh.
"I have already said this, that they treated me worse than a barrabrava [violent ultra], not allowed go to a football game, not allowed visit a training pitch, it was something you could not understand," Suarez said.
"I admitted my mistake, that I had done wrong, as many people make mistakes, something normal in the life of a human being. But it was too much those four months without playing any official game, after banning me from all pitches, not being able to go anywhere. I've been almost two years without the national team, I don't believe it had any logic.
"It was worse or almost like I had failed a drugs test. It is difficult, but I am always aware that all this is a wheel and in the end everyone gets what they deserve, as we are all seeing now."
Suarez is Uruguay's all-time leading scorer with 43 goals and has won 82 caps since making his senior debut with La Celeste in February 2007.
Following the incident in the Italy game at the Brazil World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter backed a heavy punishment for Suarez.
The 29-year-old said he felt that the subsequent legal problems suffered by Blatter and other leading FIFA figures is deserved comeuppance.
"Everything happens for a reason," Suarez said. "They punished me so hard, now everyone is getting their part. There were people who got involved, who judged and criticised, or others who said they were defending me when all they were doing was selling smoke. These things hurt you."